Exeter City 2-2 Liverpool: Klopp's young Reds avoid an upset

Exeter City will have been delighted to earn a 2-2 draw against Liverpool in the FA Cup third round on Friday evening, taking the tie to a replay at Anfield.

With injuries forcing Jürgen Klopp into fielding a team of relatively unknown youngsters, it wasn't a huge surprise to see Exeter take an early lead through Tom Nichols. However, the lead didn't last long, with Jerome Sinclair making it 1-1.

Exeter were to take the lead again in this topsy turvy game, with Lee Holmes scoring directly from a corner, only for Brad Smith to ensure that the hosts didn't win with a late goal.

Although another game won't suit the L4 club, it will earn a huge amount of money for League Two Exeter, who will be looking forward to visiting Liverpool's famous ground.

Two early goals kick-off entertaining clash

With the game billed as one in which 'anything could happen', it certainly did in the opening period - as both side scored.

With Christian Benteke, Adam Bogdan and Jose Enrique the only senior players in Liverpool's starting 11, it did come as a surprise that they started so well, pinging the ball around and troubling the home side.

However, it was Exeter who took the lead, making use of Liverpool's weakness from crosses. Jamie Reid burst down the right hand side and put a flat ball across for Nichols, and the eventual man of the match made no mistake in prodding the ball past Adam Bogdan. 

Exeter players celebrate their first goal (photo: getty)
Exeter players celebrate their first goal (photo: getty)

Liverpool didn't take long to level up though, with Jerome Sinclair netting his first senior goal for the club. Ryan Kent's shot was deflected into the area, bounced off Benteke and fell for Sinclair, who tucked the ball into the corner of the net.

The Reds could have gone ahead around the half hour mark, as Connor Randall evaded two challenges when bursting into the penalty area, but could only send his shot across the face of the goal. 

Despite being on the back-foot for much of the first half, Exeter continued to threaten aerially, with right-back Christian Ribeiro twice getting beyond his man but heading wide.

Exeter go back ahead, but can't make it last

He won't have been too disappointed minutes after missing the second chance though, with Exeter re-taking the lead on the stroke of half time. It was a strange goal, and one that Liverpool 'keeper Bogdan won't look back on too fondly, as Holmes' inswinging corner flew straight in. 

That gave them a boost going into the second half, and for long periods it looked like they'd take a two goal lead, mounting immense pressure on the Liverpool goal. Ribeiro missed another header, whilst goalscorer Nichols saw a free-kick land just over the bar. They would live to rue those misses, as the visitors equalised in the 74th minute.

A patient passing move resulted in the ball being shifted to substitute Sheyi Ojo on the left-wing, and he sent in a low cross which wasn't properly cleared, allowing Brad Smith to slam the ball home and make it 2-2. 

From then on the Reds looked more like nicking a winner, with Benteke finally making an impact in the game during the late stages, whilst Smith and Ojo continued to impress down the left. However, it wasn't to be, and they'll do it all over again at Anfield in a couple of weeks time.

Brad Smith fires home the equaliser (photo: getty)
Brad Smith fires home the equaliser (photo: getty)
VAVEL Logo